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take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that's visited tucson and aurora and oak creek and newtown and communities from columbine to blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try. in the coming weeks, i'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? we can't accept events like this as routine.
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are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? that the politics are too hard. are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom? you know, all the world's religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question. why are we here? what gives our life meaning? what gives our acts purpose? we know our time on this earth is fleeting.
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we know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it's wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. we know that no matter how good our intentions, we'll all stumble sometimes in some way. we'll make mistakes, we'll experience hardships, and even when we're trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern god's heavenly plans. there's only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have. for our children, for our
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families, for each other. the warmth of a small child's embrace, that is true. the memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger. we know that's what matters. we know we're always doing right when we're taking care of them. when we're teaching them well. when we're showing acts of kindness. we don't go wrong when we do that. that's what we can be sure of,
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and that's what you, the people of newtown, have reminded us. that's how you've inspired us. you remind us what matters. and that's what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as god sees fit to keep us on this earth. let the little children come to me, jesus said, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. charlotte, daniel, olivia, josephine, ana, dylan, madeleine, catherine, chase,
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jesse, james, grace, emilie, jack, noah, caroline, jessica, benjamin, avielle, allison. god has called them all home. for those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. may god bless and keep those we've lost in his heavenly place. may he grace those we still have
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with his holy comfort, and may he bless and watch over this community and the united states of america. [ applause ] [ applause ]
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>> on behalf of the newtown clergy association, we are so grateful to our president for spending time with us and for reminding us that we are not alone in this time of tragedy, that there's not just a country standing behind us, that there's a world standing behind us. those words i know as difficult as they were to hear for some, brought much consolation to all. i want to thank our governor and all the state officials who have been by our side since day one. they have been a remarkable reminder to us of their humanity and their care for us.
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but most of all, i want to thank an incredible first-select woman who's led us through the most dark periods of our lives. in the storms of the past years ravaged our community without power for days, i thought those were the hardest days of pat's life, but when i saw her friday in front of sandy hook school, i realized that she'd met the most dark days. pat, to you, to dr. robinson, we thank you for being leaders to us through these difficult times. and now this final part of our prayer is for us, the people of newtown.
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>> these are the words of the apostle paul as he writes to the church at rome. what then shall we say in response to this, if god is for us, who can be against us? he who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for all of us, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things? who will bring any charge against those whom god has chosen, that is god who justifies, who is he that condemns? christ jesus who died, more than that who was raised to life, was at the right hand of god and is also interceding for us. who shall separate us from the love of christ, shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword as it is written for your
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sake, we face death all day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. know in all these things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us, for i am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the presence, nor the future, neither any powers, height, nor depth, in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of god that is in christ jesus our lord. >> and so we stand now in prayer for ourselves. our hearts are broken, but our spirits are strengthened by the power of god's goodness and his ever-creating love and by the generous hearts of a community who truly cares. we have shown to the world our compassion. but you have placed on our
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shoulders a burden of imaginable pain. you have put in our hearts the resolve to work together to make of this world a place of justice, of peace, of truth, for our people, especially for our young. we thank you this night for our community leaders who have walked a dark road helping us find a light. we pray for men and for women and whose love for each other has given us children that we might guide and encourage them. we seek your wisdom as our administrators and our educators continue to teach our children ways to strengthen them to be productive and positive citizens of this world, to only bring right and good, not harm or hurt. we pray that this culture of death that is overshadowing our entire country, especially now in this, our town, will soon be replaced with a culture of life
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that embraces every person with human dignity. we are brought to you tonight in our prayer those we have lost, those whose hearts have been broken forever. we bring to you 20 new stars in the heavens, 20 new saints, 20 new angels. we bring to you those who risked their lives for us every day, not counting the cost. and we bring to you those who guide, those who counsel, those who bless and embrace the confused and the broken. and now in this prayer we bring to you ourselves, our brokenness, our questions, our doubts, our anger, and our hearts. and we pray for the peace, the hope, and the renewal of trust that can come only from a god who first conceived us in love
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and placed a hand of compassion on each of our shoulders, even in this most challenging time. and so tonight, for our community, a community deeply pained, we ask you to heal the brokenness, to answer our questions, to replace our doubts with certainty, our anger with peace, and our hurt with healing. god, we thank you for this town. we thank you for its people. and we thank you for this opportunity to stand together and not to fall apart. amen. >> now a final blessing of hope through faith in jesus christ from the words of st. john and saint paul.
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i heard a loud voice from the throne saying, behold the dwelling place of god is with man. he will dwell with them and they will be his people and god himself will be with them as their god. he will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more. neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away, and he who was seated on the throne said, behold i am making all things new. and now, may the grace of our lord jesus christ and the love of god and the communion of the holy spirit be with you all. amen. i ask you to please take your seats until i can receive confirmation that the president has safely exited the school
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campus. and i don't know who that confirmation is going to come from. but allow me to say while i wait for that, we then encourage all of you, on behalf of the newtown clergy, give to one another all the love and care and support that you can. and clergy will be available for you at this time at the platform for a time of prayer, according to each of their teachings and beliefs. so please do remain seated until i receive that word of confirmation and then comfort one another. >> a powerful, very moving interfaith prayer vigil here in newtown, connecticut.
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we heard from the clergy, from various religions, religions of the united states of america. we heard, of course, from the president of the united states, and he vowed after the senseless murders in arizona, in colorado, in wisconsin, and now here in connecticut, he vowed that he would do whatever his office would allow him to do, whatever powers he now has, to try to make sure this does not happen again. and he will work diligently in that area. anderson cooper, we watched these faiths, they were well representative. we can only hope and pray that those who now mourn will get at least a little bit of comfort from what we just saw. >> and the president toward the end of his remarks asking if we are, all of us as a society, doing all we can to protect our children. he said he felt we are not and he said we can do better.
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very powerful words from president obama ending this ceremony, and now people in the audience greeting one another, hugging one another. first responders are still inside. wolf, very moving moment when the first responders came into the room shortly before the service began, there was a standing ovation for them. no doubt many people now approaching those first responders, just wanting to thank them, shake their hand, hug them, perhaps share a tear with them. a lot of people who were watching in overflow rooms and outside huddled under blankets given by the red cross are slowly walking away, past the location where we are, past a makeshift memorial, which is outside the high school, pausing for a moment. some carrying candles. some depositing those candles down on the ground, slowly walking back to their cars with their families. this has been a very moving service hearing from, as you said, a number of denominations,
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from pastors, we heard from a rabbi, as well as a representative of the muslim community, singing. overall, very moving ceremony. don lemon is standing by. he's been talking with people who have been watching the service, who have been stopping by the makeshift memorial all evening long. don, what have you been hearing from people? >> reporter: i've been hearing a lot. people, of course, coming by to light candles and drop things off, anderson. some were standing out here watching the memorial on their smartphones on cnn and the stone river grill, a tavern across the street they were watching. you can see there's a band here that says, "remember the children." they walked by. they had been playing and walking up and down the street here. people have been hugging each other. they have been crying, they have been comforting each other.
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the people who are watching in the tavern across the street after the president spoke came out to talk. some people were watching in restaurants. chris, you were watching as well. the president offer any words of comfort to you? >> yeah, i think he -- what he said that was comforting is it's time for change and time to actually do something about all the violence we've been having lately in this country. >> reporter: and you know that violence. >> yeah, i had a son that was murdered five and a half years ago, so this definitely stirs up a lot of those emotions for me, absolutely, with all the little innocent children that died. >> reporter: to see this memorial and to see the people all coming together, does that comfort you at all to the people in the community? >> it does. it's a wonderful area. people in newtown are beautiful people. i think it's -- i think the way people are just bonding together, it says a lot about this community, just this part of the country. >> reporter: thank you. there are people here that are hanging japanese birds over here that they said that they'd had
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during their wedding. 1,000 wishes, they say, for everyone involved in this. other folks coming really from all around the area just to pay their respects and to offer comfort to each other here as we listen to this band and we finish up the memorial here. this one is temporary, but i'm sure a permanent one will be erected, but this one will have to offer comfort for the time being. wolf blitzer, moving ceremony by the president, very touching moment really here in newtown in the square where people are just paying their respects and loving each other. >> as they should right now. i think the whole country has been moved by what we have just seen and will reflect on what we have just seen as well. i was especially moved at the end when the president of the united states read the names of those kids who were killed friday morning at the elementary school here in newtown, connecticut. and let's remember who these people were. ♪
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>> just a tragic, tragic situation for the teachers, the principals, and those angels. that's all i keep thinking about is those angels. ♪ ♪
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>> i mean, when things happen to your children, and to other people's children, i can't look at my children's faces now without seeing the faces of every one of their schoolmates. ♪ ♪
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good evening, it's been an incredibly moving vigil tonight in newtown, connecticut, as the community comes together to mourn its lost children and teachers. this country is grieving as well. visibly emotional president obama met with families, including the baby granddaughter of slain principal dawn hochsprung, then he spoke to the people of newtown and the nation, promising to do all he can to prevent further tragedies like this. >> in the coming weeks, i'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? we can't accept events like this as routine.
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are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? >> in the midst of his almost incomprehensible tragedy, there were heros, one of them, vicki soto, a 27-year-old teacher, gave her life to protect her students. joining me now, vicki's sister, mother, brother, cousin, welcome to you all. it's been an incredibly moving day, again, in newtown. and the words of the president in particular this evening, very controlled anger, he wants to try to do something, anything, to stop this happening again. the appalling tragedy, which has effected so many families, including your own. if i may start with you, donna, vicki was your daughter, she was 27. there have been so many tributes to her paid by so many people. what would you like to say?
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>> i'd just like everyone to know that she was just a beautiful, beautiful young lady. she had such passion for teaching and for life and especially for her family. she was extremely close to her siblings that are sitting with me, her cousins, and loved them dearly. and wanted to be a teacher from the time she was 3. that's all she ever wanted to do. she just loved her kids. she just talked about them all the time with such fondness and caring, and she just adored them. and i have no doubt in my mind she did everything she could to protect every single one of them. >> what she did was incredibly heroic, and she saved many lives with her actions. knowing her, as her mother, as well as anybody in the world knew her, did it surprise you that she was so courageous in such a terrifying moment? >> not at all. she was truly selfless.
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she would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself, and especially children. she loved them more than life, and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day, any day and for any reason. it doesn't surprise anybody that knows vicki that she did this. >> carly, vicki was your sister, you were all very close, as your mother just said. it's obviously a terrible, torrential loss, you must be grieving horribly, yet at the same time hearing the president of the united states talk about your sister as a hero, it must have been very moving to you. >> it was very much. i appreciate all his kind words that he did say about my sister. she was a hero, and she still is. >> what kind of person was she,
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carlee? >> she was so caring. she put anybody else before her. she wanted the best for everyone. she just loved life, and she loved teaching. >> and jillian, you're all wearing green because that was vicki's favorite color, and i heard you say this morning that when it snowed, you felt it was in some way a signal from your sister. >> it was. it's like her looking down at us and letting us know that she's here with us and she loved the christmas holiday. she loved everything about it, the snow that comes with it, so when it started to hail, the three of us knew it was our sister saying that i'm here with you guys, even through all of this. green is her favorite color. >> i'm sorry. >> we just wanted to wear the green to show how much we love
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her and honor her for it. >> carlos, you were vicki's brother. when you heard what had happened at the school, it must have been, i imagine, the worst moment of your life. try and sum up for me what it's been like for you as a family since this dreadful, dreadful moment happened. >> it's just been horrible. there's been so many people here to support us, and i really think that she wanted us to come back together. and we've always been close, but she's just going to bring us closer, and i know we'll always remember her for this. >> and carlos, how do you feel about the way the community has rallied together? the president noticed this, you've come together as a community, not just those who have lost people, but just the whole community. and you've been joined by america, i think, that's been shattered by what's happened, from the president down. what do you think will happen with newtown now?
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how will they recover from this? >> i don't think it will ever be a full recovery. i know that these 27 people that lost their lives will be remembered and will be missed to the fullest, and i just -- it's just so thankful to know that everyone in stratford has been touched by her life somehow and came here to celebrate her life. >> i understand, donna, that you and carlee met with the president today. can you talk about that? >> we all met with the president today. it was -- he was very, very caring and very supportive and told us he knew all about vicki and what she did and what a hero she was. and she was just very, very kind to us and gave us the time we needed with him, and it was -- it was very comforting. >> and james, you were vicki's cousin, you're also a police officer.
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it was very noticeable in the president's speech tonight that he seems, although he never mentioned the word guns, he's determined to do whatever he can, he said, to try and prevent another shooting tragedy like this. and many are taking this to mean gun control, whatever it may be. what was your reaction as a policeman to what he was saying there? >> i got to be honest, i didn't see or hear his speech yet. we -- after we met with him, he was just love and support from him was comforting for the family. i got the family back here to stratford. to try and answer your question, just as any other issue, i would have to say awareness,
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awareness, awareness. friends, family, gun supporters, people that oppose guns, just awareness. and being aware of your surroundings. >> i want to thank you all for -- >> i don't know what else to say. >> listen, i don't want to press you on this. it's not the time for you as a family to consider these things. it will be for the president and politicians, i think, to do what needs to be done. thank you all very much for taking the time to join me this evening and just to send you on behalf of everyone at cnn and america that's been thinking of you and your family. vicki was a heroine, true american, your loss is appalling but her legacy and memory will live on for a very, very long time. thank you all very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> brave family. i want to bring you wolf blitzer, who's on the scene of tonight's vigil. wolf, it's a pretty unbearable story, this, to cover.
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you can only begin to imagine what on earth these families are going through. what did you make of the president's speech tonight? very emotional, pretty determined, and although he didn't mention the word guns, pretty obvious, i think, he's going to try to do something fairly dramatic to try and do something, as he put it, doing nothing is not an option anymore. >> reporter: he says he's going to use every opportunity he has with the power of his office, the presidency of the united states, to try to make sure this does not happen again. even if he can save one or two or three young kids, he wants to do it. and it was a clear reference, i don't think there's any doubt, piers, what the president was talking about, even though he didn't say, for example, we must, you know, get new gun legislation to control guns in the united states, the assault weapons ban or whatever, that's clearly what he's driving at and what he's going to try to do. whether or not he succeeds is another manner.
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as you know, there's a lot of opposition to a much greater gun control in this country, but i think he's going to try. he didn't try during the first four years. there were a lot of other issues on his agenda, including a u.s. economy that was near, not only recession, but potentially another depression. a lot going on, two wars. but right now, having just been reelected, having just gone through what we heard one of the ministers say, one of the people who met with him, this past friday when he heard about what happened at that elementary school here in newtown, connecticut, the worst day of his presidency, i think there's no doubt he's going to try to do something in this second term as far as gun control is concerned. that will be a priority. he wants to use the office of the presidency to try to save some lives, and i think he's going to do the best he can on this area. i don't know if he'll succeed, because this is a tough issue, as you know, in the u.s. senate, u.s. house of representatives, but he'll give it a shot. >> i think that's right. and i think he's picked up on
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what's a national mood that i detect after this particular horrifying incident, one of the worst you could possibly imagine. i detect there's a different mood about this issue and action has to be taken. the american public are going to demand it. wolf, for now, thank you very much indeed. the tragedy in newtown raises difficult and painful questions, questions people across the country are all wrestling with tonight. when we come back, xavier amador, a consultant on many mass shootings. what he now thinks. this is america.
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with candles, flowers, and cards, people gathered tonight at a memorial for the victims in newtown. we're learning more details about the gunman, adam lanza. joining me is amador, he's consulted on many mass shootings in the past. we spoke on friday. right at the top, i want to talk about something we discussed, which is about the potential mental illness that this young man suffered from. it's suggested that it is
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possibly aspergers, a form of autism. clarify that and clarify whether there's any real science that suggest people that have that kind of condition might be violent. >> there is none. there's absolutely no evidence that if you have asperger's, you're more likely to be violent than anybody else. i got some e-mails and blogs after our last conversation. i didn't intend to say people with asperger's lack empathy, they lack the ability to judge social cues. i look at you like you're looking at me, it may look like i don't have empathy, i wanted to clarify that as well. >> more and more detail emerging, no sign of motive. killed his mother, went to the school and clearly looks like he planned it quite carefully. the fbi seized a computer. one of the things they know is he was playing pretty violent video games, reenacting battle scenes with graphic characters and so on. i was debating this on twitter
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today, if you're watching and want to get involved in any of this, tell me, many have been strong about all these things. people saying there's no link between any of this and anyone watching violent video games, but here's my question. in all your experience, if somebody is mentally ill, mentally unstable, vulnerable, if you like, and they are watching very violent video games a lot, can it stimulate them, does it desensitize them, can it be part of the provocation, if you like, for making them go and do an atrocity? >> i don't think it's part of the provocation. let me say something. we're talking about mental illness, doesn't mean you're mentally unstable. the majority of people in treatment with serious mental illnesses likes asperger's, schizophrenia, bipolar, are stable, living productive lives, are working. let's be really clear about that. what happens, i look at that research for many, many years.
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there was an attempt to ban -- >> columbine also. >> the headline is that, yes, when you're engaged in, you know, very vivid videos where you're shooting people, killing people, what happens is you're desensitized to what it means to pull a trigger. certainly, the science there is very good, but a lot of that research is flawed in that people are selected not -- you can't know ahead of time if the people who are drawn to these games are already people prone to violence and aggression, regardless of the issue of mental illness. >> people who play these games are perfectly normal, whatever normal means these days, and it has no affect on them, i totally accept that. another argument that's been raising, morgan freeman, the actor, blamed the media for all of this, copycat syndrome, the media, by making as he put it almost like grotesque heros of
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these people by constantly naming them, somehow propagate this ongoing situation with so many mass shootings. do you think he's right? i mean, i didn't agree with him ruling out gun control -- >> i don't think he's right. >> is he right? >> no, he's not. i'll blame the media for one thing only, which is retraumatizing us. do you remember with 9/11 there was a call for the media to stop showing the jets flying into the buildings, because psychologists like myself and others were seeing our patients having vivid flashbacks, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder reaction. excessive coverage of this can be traumatizing. i've looked at pictures of dead children and babies in the cases i've worked on and had nightmares. one case in particular i still have flashbacks to just looking at pictures, but no, it doesn't cause this kind of thing. can i say one thing really, really clearly that i only touched on on friday, your chances of being shot and killed in a mass shooting like this are actually less than being struck by lightning.
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i'm not saying we shouldn't cover this and talk about this, but, you know, i'm sorry, morgan freeman, this is not causing -- >> i'm hearing apparently morgan freeman has come out and said it's a hoax, although it's been running all over the media for the last 24 hours. it may be a hoax, as he appears to now be clarifying. either way, though, it's a debate a lot of people i've been seeing on twitter, cnn anchors, anderson cooper and others think you shouldn't be naming. it's something people should be thinking about quite carefully. >> it is a valid thing to be thinking about, but then you turn to the research, if you have viable research to look at, you can look at experts who can assess the truthfulness of the conclusions. we don't see that coverage like this causes violence. >> final question, everybody wants to know the same thing, why would a 20-year-old boy who just seemed to be a little bit of a loner, little bit strange, but nothing dangerous at all,
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why would he go to a school and kill 20, 5, 6, 7-year-old kids? >> the person that has the answer maybe is adam. one thing we know is people with mental illnesses and people who don't have mental illnesses who do these things isolate themselves first. what we need to do is build bridges to these people. i tell you what, the people who are violent and are prone to suicide, in my field, we prevent those kinds of things all the time when we build a relationship with the person. they will talk to me, you know what, doc, i'm so angry i'm thinking about killing my mother. >> his computer hard drive the fbi have. when we come back, what to do about guns. it's truly a question about life and death and feelings on both sides are very motive. i'll talk to both sides after the break. americans believe they should be in charge of their own future.
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your health and the health of your family depend on it. and we will have to change. since i've been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings. fourth time we've hugged survivors, the fourth time we've consoled the families of victims. and in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims,
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many of them children. >> president obama in tonight's vigil calling for change, but the question remains what america should do about guns. president of the brady campaign to prevent gun violence and the attorney for the michigan coalition for responsible gun owners. i want your reaction, first of all, dan gross, what do you make of how the president said, and how serious do you think he is about actually doing something rather than just words? >> we're inspired. i mean, we're inspired to take him at his word. the president, since this has happened, has called for meaningful action. he's saying all the right things, and he's talking about all the right things. it's up to us, the american public now, including all the victims that have been impacted by these tragedies, to make sure he does take that action. those are the dots that need to be connected. this is the time. change has to happen. and this really is a pivotal moment in the history of this issue, and you can just sense it watching this tonight and seeing how that community is grieving and knowing how our whole nation is grieving. we do think this is a time for
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change and we do think president obama is going to lead us in the right direction. >> steve, the nature of this debate, i think, needs to be crystallized and clarified. too many people on each sides take extreme positions and put words in the mouth of their opponents. you the reality is this, nobody is suggesting a ban on all guns in america. the second amendment is absolutely part of american culture and people believe in it. however, there are limitations. the amendment talks about a well-regulated militia. people are calling out for taking some of these weapons away from people with potential mental issues. to me, the question for you is is, the last three mass shootings in the last four months in america, aurora, oregon in the shopping mall and now here in newtown have
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involved young people using the same weapon, ar-15 semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines. in aurora, over 100 in his magazine, which he could fire off, and here we saw up to 30, but a lot of magazines. here's the question, why do you feel that americans should have those if your belief is they just have to defend themselves? >> well, before i go any further, piers, first, thanks for having me back. we did have a heated discussion last time and i much appreciate this more calm discussion. second, on behalf of i'm sure i speak for the entire board of michigan coalition of responsible gun owners we offer our condolences for the victims of the families. we are all about safety. we all want to be safe and we certainly want children to be safe. like i said last week, we just disagree on how to get there from here. to answer your question, i would
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point out that the shooter in the mall in oregon was confronted by a legally armed citizen who pointed his gun at the shooter and then decided not to squeeze the trigger because he was afraid of missing and hitting bystanders. he was acting very responsibly. and the next shot that that shooter fired, that the killer fired, was on himself after he was confronted with an armed citizen. so that's actually one example of a responsible gun owner using a gun to save lives. >> well, he actually didn't use the gun. i think the point, dan, unless i'm mistaken. you take it up here. but i don't think any american citizen with a legal gun has ever intervened in a mass shooting, certainly not in the last 30 or 40 years in america. >> actually, they have. >> before this evolves into an argument, i mean, as easy as it
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is to become uninspired by a conversation like this and what your other guest is saying, i just encourage the american people to not lose the sense of inspiration in terms of the change that we have the potential to accomplish. this is not the conversation that the american public want to have. this is not our vision where the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns. there is fertile ground where the overwhelming majority of americans agree with things like background checks to make sure that 40% of all gun sales that are not currently covered by background checks to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns, to prevent criminals and domestic abusers from getting guns, to close that gaping hole in our system. gun owners, 74% of nra members support solutions like that. unfortunately, sometimes this plays out as a polarized political debate in segments like the one i was part of also on friday night, but the reality is the american public isn't polarized. the only place this is a polarized political debate is in congress. we need to take the voice of the american people who know that,
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as president obama said tonight, we can be better than this and hold our leaders accountable. >> very interesting to me. this is almost a mirror tragedy of what happened in britain in 1996 and scotland, 16 young 5 and 6-year-old children were killed. it was the worst shooting of its type in modern american history, and as a result, a full handgun ban was brought in. which would not be applicable here, there are too many in circulation. but what was most notable about the debate, it was completely non-political. my question for you, steve, is why does this have to be political? why can it not just be a bipartisan, all encompassing, american dialogue, which leads in the end to pragmatic solution? >> i agree with your last statement, absolutely, piers. in fact, our group is a single issue non-partisan group. we have independents, democrats, and republicans in our group and on membership, most are elected officials.
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we actually do take that position. >> do you agree with universal background checks? >> universal background checks? you know we have the criminal background check in place. >> right, but that only applies to 60% of gun sales. do you agree with covering the other 40% of gun sales with background checks? >> we agree that disqualified individuals should not have access to firearms. >> so you agree with the background checks -- >> are you going to let me finish? please, please. >> let me ask you, give me one good reason why there shouldn't be 100% background checks on all gun transactions in america. give me a good reason. >> it's literally impossible, piers, as you pointed out a moment ago, to do 100%. we have a lot of guns in circulation on earth and in the united states. we know that guns pass across borders. >> we're talking about new ones.
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>> national and state borders. >> let me focus the question more solidly and realistically. new guns purchased from this day forward, would you be supportive of 100% registration, accountability, database, a national database, and if you're not in favor of that, why wouldn't you be? >> or as close as we can get to 100%, which is a lot closer than where we are now. >> the system we have in place right now is a list of those disqualified. personally, i would support that based on everything i've been able to learn in my position as professor of firearms law and in my position as a trainer of concealed pistol licenses that national instant check system seems to be working quite well. i believe that's one area everyone agrees. >> we should apply to 100% of gun sales? >> we have a list of folks who are disqualified who have been adjudicated mentally ill, felony
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records that disqualify them, et cetera. that system seems to work quite well. >> final question for you, steve, is this. in light of the fact the last three mass shootings, as i said, all featured an ar-15 rifle aided and abetted by high-capacity magazines, give me a reason why you are comfortable with those weapons still being sold in connection with high-capacity magazines in america in places like walmart. >> fair enough. and i don't know any particular retailer, but i will say we did try from 1994 to 2004, we tried the so-called assault weapons ban. it had no impact on crime that anyone could measure whatsoever, and the truth is sometimes these guns are used in very positive ways to save lives. they are functionally identical to semi-automatic weapons that date back literally to the 1800s. a high-capacity magazine is nothing but a steel box and a spring.
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it's incredibly easy to make a high-capacity magazine. the truth is that any such ban would be ineffective. >> this is totally disconnected with what the american people want and the conversation that's happening out there, and that's what gives me inspiration to continue to have conversations like this. the american public knows we are better than this. we don't want to live in a society where violence leads to more violence and guns lead to more guns. that's the conversation president obama is leading and the american people need to speak up around. >> got to leave it there. >> we all agree we need safety. >> we're all agreed on that. we will continue this debate on the show. it's been an important one for america. thank you both. president obama said we can't tolerate this anymore, but will there be a change in policy? i'll ask frank bruni after the break. [ male announcer ] this is amy. amy likes to invest in the market.
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Piers Morgan Tonight
CNN December 16, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

News/Business. Interviews and current events.

Network CNN
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on 12/17/2012